We haven’t had a guest blog post for a while – so time for an epic one! Arvin Buising has been working remotely for more than 6 years now. He works as a freelance writer and uses lots of different productivity tools to help him plan his day.
Follow him on Twitter at @kudlit.
Thanks to technology, we no longer have to be trapped in an office to do our work. In this post I’ve tried to come up with a comprehensive list of productivity tools to make your life easier.
Cloud storage makes our data safer and easier to share. Sure, you can store terabytes of data on your hard drive, but when a hard drives fail, as hard drives often do, your data may be lost forever. Below are some free cloud storage services that remote workers can take advantage of.
Dropbox – Marieke has mentioned Dropbox on this blog before but they are definitely the biggest player at the moment. They offer 2 gigs of free storage. But you could actually earn a bigger storage (up to 16 gigabytes) by referring friends.
Mega – If 16 gigabytes of free storage still look small to you, how about 50 gigabytes of free storage? That’s what mega.co.nz offers. Their connection speed is really fast too. I recommend using this free service if you’re transferring a lot of huge files such as images, videos or audio files.
If those are still not enough for you, check out these other free storage services:
- Amazon Cloud Drive: 5 Gigabytes, also offers online office tools such spreadsheets and word processing software.
- Box: 5 Gigabytes
- MiMedia: 7 Gigabytes
- SkyDrive: 7 Gigabytes
- SpiderOak: 2 Gigabytes
- Mediafire: 10 Gigabytes
- Ubuntu One: 5 Gigabytes
That’s more than 100 gigs of free cloud storage space if you register with all these providers!
If that’s still not enough for your needs, you might want to upgrade to a premium account on any of those providers or perhaps get a VPN service. A Virtual Private Network makes it convenient for team members working in different geographical locations to access the same resources via the Internet.
Good communication is key to a smooth workflow. Sometimes, emails and chats are simply not enough especially if there are several people involved in the projects. Good thing there are a number of free online conferencing tools that you can choose from.
- Adobe Connect – is a shareware that lets you create an unlimited number of “meeting rooms”. Personally, I don’t think anyone would need that many “meeting rooms”, but I like the fact that it lets you record meetings, share screens with each other, chat and even leave notes.
- Mikogo – is everything you’ll ever need in an online conferencing tool. You can use your iPad, iPhone or any other device that uses a browser to join a conference. And yes, it’s free!
- TeamViewer – if someone needs to take full control of another person’s computer then this is the tool to do it. It can do everything Mikogo can do and for personal use it’s free.
- Google Hangouts – Marieke has recently written about hangouts but it’s still worth mentioning in this list.
One of the challenges of working remotely is keeping up with the tasks and sticking to schedule. Fortunately there are task management tools that help us be on top of our game.
- Rescue Time – Are you always distracted by Facebook and YouTube? Rescue Time can help you analyze how much time you spent socializing on Facebook and how much time you spend on actually working. It helps a lot if you get distracted easily. The individual license is free.
- Google Tasks – This free tool from Google is integrated with Gmail and Google Calendar. You can use it with any device that has a browser.
While the above tools are excellent for managing your own time, working together with an entire team remotely is an entirely different story.
- GanttProject – is a free and user-friendly tool for managing projects. It has an active community around it and you can ask questions on the forums if you get stuck with anything.
- PHPProjekt – is a suite of applications for communication and management of teams. It features a group calendar, a time card system, a file management system and a mail client. Like GanttProject, it also has an active community.
There are many other open source project management tools available but these two are the well-maintained ones. Commercial project management tools are often better considering the importance of these tools in completing projects.
There are free tools out there that remote workers should take advantage of but in some cases, it makes more sense to use the paid tools.
What’s your best-kept secret tool you use as a remote worker? Please share it in the comment section.